Reply to Irish

I got a question from a fellow blogger.  You all know him, Irish from where else? The Feral Irishman.  But you know me, I'm so long winded, that my reply wouldn't even fit in the comments section, so here's his question:

Off Topic

Hey Neil, Quick question on snow tires for my truck. 08 silverado 1500. I use my plow personally and my tires are getting on in milage. Im thinking of dedicated snows and steel rims for the winter. I only use the truck during the storm or if needed for business. Other than that I use the car for gas milage savings. I checked with the local shop and they offered the following

firestone winteforce, mastercraft courser, general altimax artic and michelin ltx winter. It's new england weather so we get ice and snow plus hard pack. 9 times out of 10 the roads are clear in a day or two.

Any suggestions or other brands?



... and here's my reply:

First off, I am honored that you consider me worth going to, for advice.

Second.  In my opinion, you are playing the game exactly the right way.  That is, own a 4x4  truck, because, sometimes, you absolutely need such a thing, but use a car with excellent fuel economy for everyday driving.  That's exactly what I do.  My everyday driver is a '95 Honda Civic, 4 cylinder, 5 speed.  It gets 40 mpg if I'm nice to it, while my 1 ton GMC gets about 10 mpg.  

You are also making the right call, owning your own snowplow.  If you already own a 4x4 truck and have a larger driveway, you might as well have a snowplow.  I can't believe how many people live out in the country, have long driveways, own 4x4 trucks, and STILL, hire someone else to do their snowplowing. 

 Even more ridiculous, are the people who think they are going to keep their driveways clear with a blade mounted on a four wheeler.  There is nothing more worthless for clearing snow, than a four wheeler.  Yeah, that's what I want to - sit out in the wind, snow and cold, on a machine that only clears off about 4 feet per swath, no hydraulic lift or turning on the blade, can't handle any snowfall over six inches, and has about twenty foot turning radius.  I laugh at these people.  For the money they spent on their four wheeler, they could have bought a used turn-key, truck and plow setup.  Most of them bought the snow blades to try to justify the purchase of their four wheelers, but just ended up digging themselves further into a hole.  I often wonder what they are thinking to themselves as they are outside, freezing their asses off for hours, while someone comes by in a pick up truck, and does their neighbor's driveway in about 15 minutes.  I'm not a big fan of four wheelers anyway, side by sides are much better, more practical machines, and if you want to go fast, off road, a good old dirt bike is much safer AND faster.

Now what were we talking about?  Oh yeah, snow tires and dedicated wheels.  Once again, you are approaching this in the smartest way possible.  Some people might think that there is a downside to this because of increased costs, but the costs are not as high as they might think.  If you are running snow tires in the winter, your summer tires last longer, because you aren't putting as many miles on them.  The total cost of doing this over the life of the truck, is no where as high as it might look at first glance.

This is also a good idea, because you can run snow tires, specifically designed for snow during the winter.  These will probably look a little uglier than your summer tires because they will almost certainly be narrower (skinny tires are good for snow), but you can keep your good looking set of wheels with your summer tires from getting all corroded from road salt.  Snow tires tend to have more rolling noise, so you won't have to listen to the extra noise, from spring til fall, using your plan.  Excellent thinking, Irish, you are definitely on the right track.

One other thing I might add.  If you want to save some money, AND still have your truck look good during the winter at the same time, consider a set of junkyard tires and wheels.  Often you can find a set of tires on top of the line OEM aluminum wheels from some newer truck that someone rolled over, for about half what you pay for a brand new set.

As for tire brands, I don't think that makes too much difference. There are a lot of tire brands, but there is really only a few actual tire manufacturers, and they make all the tires for everyone else.  Did you ever notice that just about every tire brand has an all terrain tire with the same tread pattern as B.F. Goodrich Radial All Terrains?  I think the discount brands like Cooper are every bit as good as the big names like Goodyear or Michelin.  The important thing is, if you really are interested in increasing your vehicle's performance in snow, you must get a tire specifically designed for snow.  Since mud had different properties than snow (adhesion, cohesion, weight, density, etc.), a mud tire has a different tread design than a snow tire and is not as good in the snow. Likewise, a snow tire will not perform as well in the mud as a mud tire.

Unfortunately, the only brand/style of tire that ever really stood out from all the others, isn't even made anymore - not since the early '80's.  Those were Firestone Town and Country snow tires.  These had the old school, saw tooth dread design.  I used these on my '66 Chevy 4x4, back in the '70's and I could keep going with open front and rear differentials, where guys with positaction would get stuck.  Best snow tire ever made, bar none.


  1. Thanks Neil:-). I'm thinking the firestones. Right now I have toyo at'a and they are tired.

  2. I agree on the "truck for when nothing else will do" philosophy. I have an 06 Silverado 2500HD diesel with less than 11K miles on it. It is used only when nothing else will do. It should with maintenance outlast me. I don't have a plow for it as we rarely get so much shown that we need to move it to get to the road. But I do have a 40hp tractor with bucket, rear blade and box blade for when stuff needs moving. The right tool for the job is always best if possible.

    1. You're doing the right thing. Pick up trucks are expensive to buy and drive, but sometimes, you gotta have 'em. Might as well make them last as long as possible and save fuel at the same time. You can get an old beater Honda Civic for about $1500 and using that whenever you can, will save you more than that on fuel and wear and tear on your truck, every year.

    2. Not a big fan of rice burners.....I prefer something a bit bigger for the most part. I don't commute far so mileage is not that big a deal. My daily driver for years was a TJ wrangler. After 16 years I am now having it rebuilt from the ground up.... I'll put about $12K into the rebuild and drive it for another 15-20 the crap out of paying $40K for a new Rubicon.

    3. Dan - I totally understand the not being a big fan of rice burners thing. When I was young, Chevy blood flowed through my veins. I was the kid who wore tee shirts that said "Chevy Rules", or something similar to that. If someone told me back then, that I would own a Toyota truck and a Honda car when I was fifty years old, I would have said, "No fuckin' way", and if it could have been proven true to me, I would have considered suicide, so I wouldn't have had to go through it. Then, when I was about 40, a few things happened to me.

      First of all, I got remarried, and my wife owned a Honda Civic. The responsibility of keeping that car in good working order, fell upon me. Hardly anything ever went wrong with that car, and if something did, it was after the car had 160K miles on it and it was relatively easy to fix. That car was passed down to my stepson, who drove it for years, with hardly any problems. My stepson eventually got a newer Honda, and I realized that Honda actually improved items that failed in the past.

      Meanwhile, my Chevy trucks kept having the same problems regardless of how long they kept making a particular body style. Nothing ever changed, until a total redesign which came along with it's own host of new problems. Some perfect examples are the dome light door switches on '88 - '98 GM trucks. I sold these trucks new, back in the late '80's and early '90's, and right away, it was apparent that this was a faulty part. I currently own a '98 GMC, and that truck still uses the same part and has the same problem. The same was true with '70 through '81 Camaro and Firebird doors. They were so heavy, that the bushings wore, out resulting in broken exterior door handles, and ripped off interior door panels. GM never did anything to resolve that problem either.

      A few years before that, I had just moved to the Janesville, Wi area. There used to be a Chevrolet plant in Janesville, and I got to know quite a few people who worked there. The stories I would hear these people tell about their own personal lack work ethic, or the lack of ethics of their co-workers', made me sick.

      Finally, back in 2005, when I had my lawn and landscape business, I decided to try a small pickup as an experiment, because gas was getting so expensive. That's when I bought the Toyota truck that I still have today. I was never so impressed with any truck as I was with that one. I never had a problem with it until the one I am experiencing right now.

      I still like American cars, but only "real" American cars, you know, V8, rear wheel drive. They are easy and inexpensive to fix, but that's all gone now. Domestic front wheel drive cars are just cheap, crappy imitations of Jap cars, and the Japs had been making small front wheel drive cars, years before we were making them over here. Most Honda and Toyota cars are now made over here anyways, you might as well buy one of them, and they don't have that union made stink all over them.